Reasons to consider digital label printing over flexographic label printing
Digital label printing for short runs offers an advantage over flexographic printing because it has faster turn times, eliminates costly plate and die charges, and produces a higher quality.
Packaging label distributors and end users are switching from flexographic label printing for short runs in favor of a more cost-effective solution—digital label printing.
Digital label printing is cheaper, more flexible, and produces astounding results.
Although flexographic label printing has been the workhorse for the packaging label manufacturing industry for years, and is still the preferred choice for long runs (exceeding 15,000 feet of material), digital label printing surpasses it for short runs. And with digital label printing equipment technology advancing quickly, digital label printing is growing in preference to flexographic label printing.
Digital label printing costs outshines flexographic label printing costs
Flexographic label printing uses a form of rotary web letterpress that requires artwork output to film and uses plates and dies. So for a 4-color process flexographic printing run of say, 1,000 labels, you’ll pay about $400 for the plates, $500 for the dies, and use up around 2,000 feet of material for registration. Plus it takes 3-4 hours of press set-up time. The total cost adds up to approximately $2,000, or $2.00 per label.
Digital label printing eliminates the need for plates, along with plate costs. Press set-up time takes roughly 15 minutes and registration uses approximately 20 feet of material. New technology in die cutting eliminates dies and tooling charges. The cost is approximately $200 for 1,000 labels or $.20 per label. Therefore, digital label printing offers a significant opportunity for distributors to sell with higher margins.
Digital label printing and cutting is more precise and more versatile
Digital label printing has faster set-up times and utilizes UV inkjet printing technology with coating and overlaminate capabilities. Digital cutting systems cut the most intricate shapes imaginable with exacting precision. This lets distributors provide custom labels on a scale like never before!
Customer artwork can be sent directly to the press without making plates. In addition, digital label printing has near photographic quality and outstanding color reproduction. This is because digital printing delivers a higher line-screen than traditional flexographic printing – typically 360 dpi for digital compared to 300 dpi for flexographic. The results are noticeable in the quality of detail in the final product.Admittedly, flexographic label printing is still the better option than digital label printing for long label runs. But even this is dwindling as digital press capabilities improve. I predict that in the next 5 years, digital label printing will compete head to head with flexographic label printing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Heinl is the Executive Vice President at Repacorp, Inc., a packaging label manufacturer headquartered in Tipp City, Ohio, Repacorp manufactures inexpensive, high quality, digital labels for packaging label distributors. http://www.repacorp.com/